By Daniel Brunty The Winston County Journal
Many Winston Countians are familiar with the overall general history of this fine county and city of Winston and Louisville. Those who are not, local historian Judy Sanders can tell you all there is to know of the background of Winston County’s namesake. Sanders, a retired educator who works part-time in the local Winston County schools and a member of the Nanih Waiya Chapter of the Daughters of the America, recently visited the gravesite of Colonel Louis Winston with a group of her students. This visit was historic due to the fact that they were the first Winston Countians in history to visit his grave. Sanders has been studying and researching the background of Louis Winston as well as Winston County for over three years. She gives a general overview of Louis’ background and genealogy of the great man. Louis Lanier Winston was born to Colonel Joseph Winston and his wife Minerva Elizabeth Lanier Hicks in Stokes County, North Carolina on November 24, 1784. Louis was one of a set of identical triplets. His brothers were Samuel Lanier and William H. Winston. The Winston family originated in Wales and the Laniers originated in France, where they became famous musicians in several European courts. William Winston, the oldest known member of the family line, immigrated to Virginia in the early 1600’s. The Winston family brought with it a rich heritage in European military service. William Winston, who was one of the first Winstons to settle in America, came as an indentured servant in the headright system (introduced in Virginia, gave each head of household the right to fifty acres of land for himself and fifty additional acres for each adult family member of servant that he brought to America). Coincidentally, he was a servant for his own brother-in-law in this system. After working off his seven years in the system, he then started buying up land and property in Virginia, in the process becoming very wealthy in land. William Winston and his wife, name unknown at this time, had three sons. They were Anthony, Isaac, and William. Anthony would be the individual through which Louis Winston would be born. Their other son Isaac would go on to have a daughter who would marry a man with the last name Henry. They would have a famous son named Patrick Henry, a Founding Father of this country. William’s son Anthony would have four sons. They were Isaac, Anthony, Nathaniel, and Samuel. Samuel would have a son named Joseph, who was the father of Louis Winston. Joseph was born in Louisa County, Virginia and later moved to North Carolina. Joseph was married to Minerva Elizabeth Lanier Hicks. In Joseph Winston’s early days, he was an Indian fighter on the frontier. Later he was selected to negotiate a treaty to push the Cherokees to the West. During the American Revolution, Joseph distinguished himself as a gallant patriot at the Battle of Moore’s Creek Bridge, Battle of Guilford Courthouse, and the Battle of King’s Mountain. Immediately following the war Colonel Winston was honored with a sword by the North Carolina General Assembly. In response to this honor Colonel Winston replied “I am at a loss for words to express my sense of honor which the General Assembly has conferred upon me by this grateful present. I trust that the sword which is directed to be presented to me, will never be tarnished by cowardice, but be wielded in defense of my country’s rights and independence.” Louis’ father was not only a warrior and patriot, but he was a statesman and educator. He served five terms in the State Senate and was elected to Congress for three terms. He served eight years as a Trustee of the University of North Carolina. Colonel Winston died in 1814 at the age of 69. The cause of his death is unknown. After Colonel Winston died, a town Winston-Salem was named in his honor. He was originally buried on family property, but later his body was entered at Guilford Courthouse National Military Park in Greensboro, NC. Near his gravesite a huge statue has been erected in honor of his military service to North Carolina and the nation. Many of Joseph and Minerva’s children left North Carolina and moved to what is known as present day Tennessee and Mississippi. They had 15 children in all. Several of these children were very famous. Louis Winston married Mary Newell Hoggatt Wright Winston, who had previously been married and had a son from that previous marriage. Louis served on the Superior Court (now known as the Supreme Court of Mississippi. He served as the secretary at the writing of the first constitution of Mississippi (1817). That was in Washington, MS. Soon after his health begin to fail him. He eventually died in 1824 at the age of 39. His brother Samuel died at the age of 47, while their other brother William H. died between the age of 19 and 20. It is believed that all three died of consumption (what is known now as tuberculosis). Louis is buried with his wife, as well as his brother Samuel and his wife. Also buried in the same location are Louis’ mother-in-law and father-in-law. Louis and his family are buried at an undisclosed location. Sanders spoke of the trip that her and a group of students from Winston Academy. “The graves are located on the property of an absentee landowner, who has no desire to reveal the location to the public,” said Sanders. “When we went down there, the owner had two individuals to escort us to the graves and then escort us back. They had to clean out the briars from over the graves. Then the children with me raked the leaves from the graves to find them. The grave of Louis Winston is a flat grave, with moss is growing on it.” Sanders also praised the group of children she visited the grave with. “My children were just wonderfully behaved,” said Sanders. “And when we got ready to leave my children did not want to get close to the home. We had kept our word that we only wanted to take a picture of the grave and leave. But when we started to leave, the two individuals who escorted us asked would we like to take a picture made on the steps of the home.” The children that were a part of this historic visit were Candi Watkins, Carly Dickerson, Blaire Bankston, Macey Donald, Thomas Snyder, Michael Dempsey, Austin Baskin, Chapin Walters, Jess Gilbert, Joshua Reed, Miles Johnson, Skylar Higgason, Kathryn King, Taylor Alexander, Anna Lowery, Courtney Morgan, Mamie Arnault, Dale Chancellor, Madden Taylor, Sara Golson, Taylor Moody, Taylor Breazeale, Rani Jaiswal, Tristen Stanley, Cody Miller. Sanders also wanted to give a special thanks to the absentee landowner who gave them permission to visit the grave as well as a thank you to Farell Rigby and Winston Academy School Board for allowing the students to make this historic trip a reality.